What's for Breakfast

After around 10 – 12 hours of overnight fasting your body needs refueling and nutrition researchoften shows that a good breakfast means you’re less likely to fill up on less nutritious foods later in the day.  But for many people breakfast is either non existent or it’s the least healthiest and most boring meal of the day.

What’s the best breakfast?

The primary guidelines for a good breakfast are:  you must enjoy it, it must fit into your schedule, it must be satisfying.  But another important consideration is that a healthy breakfast should fulfill all your nutrient requirements:

  • Carbohydrates:  found mostly in grains, fruits, starchy vegetables and dairy, are converted into glucose which fuels your body and brain.  Glucose is so important to the body that, in the absence of carbohydrates, it can convert fats and proteins to glucose.
  • Proteins:  found mostly in meats, dairy and legumes and nuts, are important for repair and growth.  Protein rich foods usually provide a feeling of lasting fullness so you don’t overeat.
  • Fats: provide a feeling of fullness as well as valuable nutrients for hormone production and other health benefits.
    Fruits and vegetables:  provide vitamins, minerals, anti oxidants, roughage and water.
    Together, carbohydrates, proteins and fats provide macronutrients which are the nutrients that provide the vast majority of metabolic energy to the body.  The micronutrients found in fruits and vegetables are necessary in smaller amounts to maintain health.  All meals, including breakfast, should contain a balanced ratio of macro and micronutrients.

Think outside the (cereal) box

Breakfast these days can be very limited – cereal, porridge, muesli, toast – but who says that breakfast needs to be limited to these foods?  A look at other cultures reveals options you may never have considered.

Asian breakfasts often include rice with vegetables, meat or fish, congee (rice porridge), soybeans, soybeans or rice, miso-thickened broth with dumplings, seaweeds, pickles, kimchi (fermented cabbage).

Other cultural breakfasts may include beans, falafel, stews, sweet dishes, savoury dishes, potatoes, stews, a whole array of breads – the list is endless.

An Australian summertime breakfast might start with a little seasonal fruit like mango, peach or nectarine and some plain full fat yoghurt.  Follow this with a few cut up fresh vegetables – snow peas, capsicum, tomato, cucumber, and add a slice of sour dough toast spread with either pate, brie or a boiled egg.  It takes no time at all to prepare, is truly delicious, covers all your nutritional needs and should easily take you through to lunch time.

In cooler weather, what’s to stop you having a few of last night’s leftovers or a bowl of soup and toast or some stir fried vegetables with a little rice and protein?

As a general rule you may find that warm breakfasts are far more satisfying in colder weather and cooler breakfasts more appealing in the warmer months – but don’t be bound by conventional rules – what do you feel like?

But I’m not hungry...

An ability to read your own body signals like hunger and thirst is critical for good health, and some people just aren’t very hungry at breakfast, but that doesn’t mean their body doesn’t need some refueling.  If you’re not very hungry try a small meal for breakfast and another small meal at morning tea.

I don’t have time...

Really?   Lack of time is often a sign that some re-prioritising is necessary.  Perhaps prioritising breakfast over Facebook, gazing at your wardrobe or spending 30 mins under the shower will help.  Some preparation the night before may make it easier to fit in a good breakfast.  Busy-ness and lack of time excuses are often used to make us feel more important – and you are important – which is why spending a little extra time on a proper breakfast is exactly what you deserve.

What will the kids eat?

Children are often much more in tune with what they need than adults.  Try asking them what they want and see what they come up with – it might not be the first time you learn something new from your children.  Children who are in charge of their own choices may be less likely to refuse what you put before them.    Don’t let your own limitations in thinking and imagination restrict your child.  Encourage their natural ability to be self aware even if their choices seem odd to you.

The bottom line is why not break out from your breakfast rut and try something different that will excite your tastebuds and nurture your body.